Luxor: The Complete Guide

The modern city of Luxor, located in Upper Egypt, encompasses the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Known as “the palaces” in Arabic, Luxor has earned the title of the “world’s greatest open-air museum” due to the presence of the Egyptian temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor within the city limits. Across the River Nile lies the west bank Theban Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, and adds to the city’s cultural and historical significance. Tourists from all over the world flock to Luxor annually to visit these monuments, which greatly contribute to the city’s economy. With a population of 422,407 (as of 2021) and an area of around 417 km2 (161 sq mi), Luxor is the capital of Luxor Governorate and is considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

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3 Best things to See in Luxor

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Diego Delso

The Luxor Temple, which was constructed around 1400 BCE, is an extensive temple complex situated on the east bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt (formerly known as Thebes). The temple was referred to as ipet resyt in the Egyptian language, meaning "the southern sanctuary", and was one of the two primary temples on the east bank, the other being Karnak. Unlike other temples in Thebes, Luxor Temple was not dedicated to a cult god or deified pharaoh in death. Rather, it was dedicated to the renewal of kingship, and it may have been the site where many pharaohs of Egypt were crowned, either in reality or conceptually.

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Address: Luxor Temple, Luxor City, Luxor, Egypt

Karnak Temple Complex

Karnak Temple Complex
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Mahmoud Mostafa Ashour

Karnak Temple Complex, also known as Karnak, is a large collection of ruined temples, pylons, chapels, and other structures located near Luxor, Egypt. The site was originally named Ipet-isut, meaning "The Most Selected of Places," and was the primary location of worship for the Theban Triad of the 18th Dynastic period, with Amun as its main deity. Construction at the complex started during the Middle Kingdom, under the reign of Senusret I, around 2000-1700 BCE, and continued through to the Ptolemaic Kingdom. While most of the surviving buildings date back to the New Kingdom era. Karnak Temple Complex is situated within the city of Thebes and in 1979, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the city. The nearby village of El-Karnak, located 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) north of Luxor, takes its name from the Karnak complex.

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Address: Karnak Temple Complex, Karnak, Luxor, Egypt | Hours: 6am-6pm | Price: adult/student LE120/60, incl open-air museum LE150/75

Valley of the Kings

Valley Of The Kings
pixabay / Simon

The Valley of the Kings, also known as Wādī Al-Mulūk or Wādī Bībān al-Mulūk in Arabic, is a long and narrow defile located just to the west of the Nile River in Upper Egypt. It was a significant part of the ancient city of Thebes and served as the burial site for almost all the kings (pharaohs) of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties from Thutmose I to Ramses X, dating from 1539–1075 BCE. The valley consists of 62 known tombs that exhibit a wide variety of plans and decorations. UNESCO designated the valley as part of the World Heritage site of ancient Thebes in 1979, which includes Luxor, the Valley of the Queens, and Karnak.

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Address: Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt

Tours and Activities from Luxor